Jerry Falwell Jr., the president of America’s largest Christian university, was recently asked by USA Today if Liberty would end its contract with Nike following the Colin Kaepernick ad campaign. Liberty has a large Division 1 sports program and is under contract with Nike to provide uniforms and gear.
Kaepernick is the face of the company’s new “Just Do It” campaign. The free agent NFL quarterback is the player who started the pre-game demonstrations during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality.
— Colin Kaepernick (@Kaepernick7) September 5, 2018
Falwell said before the school makes a decision about staying with Nike, he wants to figure out what they believe about the protests themselves. He said they are “exploring the situation.”
If Nike really does believe that law enforcement in this country is unfair and biased, I think we will look around. If we have a contract, we’ll honor it, but we strongly support law enforcement and strongly support our military and veterans who died to protect our freedoms and if the company really believes what Colin Kaepernick believes, it’s going to be hard for us to keep doing business with them.
But if it’s just a publicity stunt to bring attention to Nike or whatever, that’s different. We understand that. We understand how marketing works. But they’re going to have to convince us that they’re not proactively attacking law enforcement officers and our military. If that’s the reason behind using this ad, we’re going to have a hard time staying.
Falwell said that one of his objections with Kaepernick is when he wore socks in a practice back in 2016 that depicted pig police officers. Kaepernick later said that the socks represent “rogue cops” who have bad intentions. The protests began after a series of shootings in which unarmed black men were killed by police officers in incidents around the country.
Falwell said: “We just want to find out what the company is trying to achieve. Are they trying to use their wealth and influence to attack law enforcement or just make some money by exploiting the attention this former quarterback is getting? … It could be a marketing ploy and if it is, we will probably overlook it. But if it’s really how the leadership of the company feels and they’re attacking law enforcement and military folks on purpose and then why deal with them when there’s plenty of others out there.”
Despite Falwell’s comments, players who have been involved the demonstrations have repeatedly said that the protests have nothing to do with the military and are an effort to raise awareness about issues in the criminal justice system and law enforcement communities.